Rule 4B. Service Upon Secretary of State as Agent for Service of Process

(1) Whenever the law of this state permits service of any process, notice, or demand, upon a defendant outside the territorial limits of this state, the secretary of state may be served as the agent for that defendant. Service shall be made by delivering to the secretary of state the original and one copy of such process, notice, or demand, duly certified by the clerk of the court in which the suit or action is pending or brought, together with the proper fee. A statement that identifies the grounds for which service on the secretary of state is applicable must be included.

(2)The secretary of state shall endorse the time of receipt upon the original and copy and immediately shall promptly send, postage prepaid, the certified copy by registered or certified return receipt mail to the defendant, along with a written notice that service was so made. If the defendant to be served is a corporation, the secretary of state shall send the copy, along with a written notice that service of the original was made, addressed to such corporation at its registered office or principal office as shown in the records on the file in the secretary of state’s office or as shown in the official registry of the state or country in which such corporation is incorporated. If none of the previously mentioned addresses is available to the secretary of state, service may be made on any one (1) of the incorporator’s at the address set forth in the charter. The secretary of state may require the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney to furnish the latter address.

(3) In case it shall appear, either before or after the lodging of process as above provided that such nonresident is dead, then either original or alias process may directed to the personal representative of such nonresident deceased and shall be sent as herein provided to the court with probate jurisdiction for the county and state of the residence of the deceased at the time of the nonresident’s death. No appearance need be made nor shall judgment be taken against such personal representative until the lapse of sixty (60) days from the date of mailing the process herein to such probate court. The procedure for mailing such process and proof of service thereof shall be as provided for service upon living persons.

(4) The fee paid by plaintiff, when fact of payment is endorsed on the original process by the secretary of state, shall be taxed as plaintiff’s cost, to abide the judgment.

(5) Acceptance of such registered or certified mail by any member of the addressee’s family, over the age of sixteen (16) years and residing in the same dwelling with him, shall constitute a sufficient delivery thereof to the addressee.

(6) The refusal or failure of a defendant’s agent, to accept delivery of the registered or certified mail provided for in subpart (1), or the refusal or failure to sign the return receipt, shall not affect the validity of such service; and any such defendant refusing or failing to accept delivery of such registered or certified mail shall be charged with knowledge of the contents of any process, notice, or demand contained therein.

(7) When the registered or certified mail return is received by the secretary of state or when a defendant refuses or fails to accept delivery of the registered or certified mail and it is returned to the secretary of state, the secretary of state shall forward the receipt or such refused or undelivered mail to the clerk of the court which the suit or action is pending, together with the original process, notice, or demand, a copy of the notice sent to the defendant corporation and the secretary of state’s affidavit setting forth his or her compliance with this Rule. Upon receipt thereof, the clerk shall copy the affidavit on the rule docket of the court and shall mark it, the receipt or refused or undelivered mail, and the copy of notice as of the day received and placed them in the file of the suit or action where the process and pleadings are kept, and such receipt or refused or undelivered mail, affidavit, and copy of notice shall be and become a part of the technical record in the suit or action and thereupon service on the defendant shall be complete.

(8) The secretary of state shall keep a record of all processes, notices, and demands served under this Rule, which record shall include the time of such service and the secretary of state’s action with reference thereto. [Effective July 1, 1997; and amended by order effective July 1, 1998.]

Advisory Commission Comments

Rule 4B is new. It is based upon Tenn. Code Ann, §§20-2-211 & 20-2-215. It is added to ensure that all general provisions for service of process are included in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.

The amendment to the first sentence of the rule is technical [1998].


Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (Modified for Use in the Tennessee Claims Commission) 2023-2024 Copyright © 2021 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works.). All Rights Reserved.